Dear conference organizer,

Thank you for inviting me as a participant or speaker at your conference, it is a privilege and I appreciate the opportunity!

Recently, I have been upset by events regarding sexual harassment at conferences, and have decided to take a proactive stance on the matter. In order to help build awareness on this important issue, I have decided to restrict my speaking appearances only to conferences that have a posted anti-harassment policy.

The short form is that, for a conference, it's a small thing to do, and a good idea besides. Most of the conferences where I speak have already added some kind of anti-harassment policy (for which I and many others thank you) because it's important to help condition people's attitudes and behavior, and social science research shows that people are more likely to behave well toward eachother if they are asked to; it's that simple. It's also good for the conference to think about and prepare a response, in case there is an incident. Again, social science research shows us that thinking about a problem in the abstract, before it's staring us in the face, greatly increases our likelihood of making an effective decision in a stressful situation. Studies regarding rape prevention also show a reduction in victim-blaming if the subject is first socialized with some background regarding harassment and assault. Getting people to think about this problem can, and will, make a positive difference.

A good sample of a conference anti-harassment policy is here. I have posted my opinions on this topic here, as well as links to the incidents (1, 2, 3) that motivate this action, if you care to review them.

Thank you for your time,
Marcus J. Ranum